I love sugar free gum. My desk drawer, coat pockets and purse are always well-stocked with at least a few pieces. I chew it when I’m stressed, I chew it when I’m happy, I chew it even when it’s not considered polite to chew it (Sorry, Mom!) But for as many pieces as I pop into my mouth without much thought throughout the day, there is one time it is a very conscious decision – after eating. I don’t always have the time or tools to brush, but I’ve always got a piece of gum! And as it turns out, chewing gum may actually be helping me keep my teeth in tip-top shape. I’d heard this before, but feared it was just an old wives’ tale!
I recently came across an answer from Dr. Anthony Komaroff on CantonRep.com. The question? “I always thought chewing gum was bad for my teeth. But then a friend told me it actually helps prevent cavities. Who’s right?” Well, given the title of the article – Ask Dr. K: Sugarless gum can help prevent cavities – I’d say her friend is right!
The doctor goes on to explain that sweets-loving bacteria live in our dental plaque, and “get the energy they need to live by consuming sugars in the foods you eat.” But these bacteria aren’t just your run-of-the-mill freeloaders living off your hard-earned lunch! No, they aren’t content to just eat your sugars and call it a day, they have to take it one step further and produce acids when they eat your sugar. And the acids? Those can lead to the big bad of the dental world – Cavities! But your body doesn’t want these acids to win; it has a vested interest in protecting itself. So it brings saliva to the rescue – saliva that “washes away the acids.” And when you chew gum, you get your saliva production kicked up a gear, giving your body more ammo against the acid.
Just be sure that if you’re really interested in preserving your teeth you reach for the sugarless gum. An occasional piece of sugared gum can be enjoyed just like candy, but chewing it for long periods regularly will just be giving those bacteria a bigger bite. Luckily, your sugar free gum options are extensive and delicious! There’s Dentyne Pure, a personal favorite – Sugarless Bubble Yum, a kid-friendly classic pick – Trident Splash, with a flavorful middle – Orbit gum, an oh-so-popular pick (I’m chewing Maui Melon Mint as I type!) – and many, many more. Now get chewing, everyone!